Essential SLA Elements #5: Protecting your data from the goblins Posted on October 25, 2011 by Tim Burke A service-level agreement works best when it’s the result of a collaborative effort between you and a service provider you can trust. This kind of trusted collaboration will uncover the most cost-effective ways your provider’s IT capabilities can be put to work for your business. Part of that trust involves the fifth and last Essential SLA Element on my list: Procedures for the safe and prompt return of your data upon service termination. Your SLA should affirm your ownership of the data you’ll store on the service provider’s systems, specify the timeframes and the means by which your provider will ensure its return, and/or obligate your provider to destroy their copies of your data upon service termination. Paying attention to the five essential elements of an SLA I’ve blogged about — specifying each service to be provided, detailing provider infrastructure and standards, establishing monitoring/enforcement/change mechanisms, and protecting your data — helps ensure the ongoing success of your SLA. An SLA you can count on depends on mutual understanding of who’s responsible for what, regular communication (whether or not there are service problems), and continual awareness about how your SLA contributes to the value of your business. The right service provider understands all this and will always help you craft a living-document SLA that’s fair and cost-effective.